Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pieces of a Map of Violence

As part of my "detour of Hawai'i," earlier today I had the chance to speak to a group of Waianae High School students who are participating in a summer environmental justice program sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee. As part of this program, they are traveling all around Oahu, looking at different sites of development, militarization and what sort of historical and contemporary problems that these sites have or are causing. They are also visiting sites where people whether through reclamation, reforestation, the propagation of native plant species or the practicing of sustainable agricultural programs, are also working towards solutions in making the island a more sustainable and more naturally balanced place.

Even before meeting the students, I was already excited, because of what sorts of potential lessons I could learn from the program itself, and how something similar could be organized for Guam youth.

I was asked to speak to them to discuss the environmental challenges that Guam is facing today, especially with regards to the military presence there and the military buildups that are looming on the horizon. I decided to frame my short talk through the metaphor of "maps." Sasha Davis, a former professor at the University of Vermont, who conducted research on Guam several years back, and according to rumor is a sometimes reader of this blog, was brought in to work with the students in developing community maps as their final projects. The same day that I spoke, a Tongan orator and scholar Emil Wolfgram had spoken to the students about the landscape of Oahu, and seeing the hidden clues, or the trace elements of older ways in which the island was mapped. The stories that gave the landscape meaning, that gave it a Pacific and a Hawaiian cartography, and one which is always constantly in the process of being paved over, bulldozed to make way for military training exercises or being commodified to enhance the tourist exotic flavor of the island.

With this sort of thinking already in the students' minds, I decided to talk to them about another way of considering maps of Hawai'i or Oahu.

The military is always obsessed about maps, it produces so many of them, it can eventually cause problems, because if shows the nature of their thinking, their crass desires, their cravings for property for conquest. It can always argue that their maps are "pre-decisional" or just exploratory, but the plethora of maps that the military is always using or creating nonetheless show the complex way in which they seek to not just dominate of control parts of the world they inhabit, but also a desire to control the representation of that world. To find a way to capture it in easily consumed and digested details, figures and shapes, lines and scales on a map.

In heavily militarized places like Guam or Oahu, the military is one of the key figures in determining the representing of land. They control vast pieces of land on these islands, and the maps that they use, that they imagine are often the ones which have the most power. And this map is given power or strength, it feels natural or it feels right based on the value that the military pumps into it, the arguments they make, not just about what is or isn't theirs, but what their presence does. What its relationship is to the land, to people, to security, to economy. The military and its view of the world is so dominant, because people outside of the fences or outside of the service tend to accept the things that military says about itself in the world, they tend to accept (to continue the metaphor) the key to their map.

On Guam we all know this key by heart, and if you ever forget it, you need only scan through a random issue of the Pacific Daily News or simply talk to someone in your family to be reminded. In other posts I refer to these ideas as colonizing fictions, and part of the mythology that props up American power and greatness in Guam. More military means more money, more jobs, a better economy. The military is a great steward of the environment. More military means more safety and security.

If you believe these fictions, if you accept them, then the map that the military proposes isn't just a good one, but starts to feel like a necessary one, as if everything would crumble and turn to dust unless we are all defined by their interests. The map of the military seeks to push out or erase all others. In the case of Oahu, on the military map of the island, you'll see no meaningful place for concepts such as Native Hawaiian sovereignty, ceded lands, the 1893 overthrow. These are all crucial things which have been essential in making the heavily militarized Hawai'i of today, primarily through their being forgotten or pretended to not mean anything except as noise from crazy brown people.

I didn't go into this much detail in my talk, but after making this point, I reminded the students there that through this program, by visiting all of these sites of military contamination and expansion, they were being given pieces of Oahu's most important map, the map which the military works so hard to keep hidden, or pretend doesn't exist. They were gathering together pieces of the map of the violence against the land of Oahu, the way it has been damaged by the heavy military presence, the way it will continue to be damaged.

I told them all that they held a great responsibility by being given this chance to see their island from a completely different perspective. They were being handed the truths to the colonizing fictions and it was up to them to assert the map of violence that they were learning about. More military can wreck an economy and polarize it, drive up the cost of living, making housing less affordable for those not in the military. The military works very hard to appear to be an environmental steward, while generally creating some of the worst toxic and hazardous waste sites you can imagine. The military creates a facade of nicely cut lawns and nicely painted houses, while the reality of military bases are savage environmental damage and high disease rates that often effect even the civilian communities outside of the gates and fences.

The students appeared to be interested and paying attention, and so I was very glad I got to speak to them. I hope to hear more about their projects and I really hope to establish a similar sort of program on Guam, as its such an important way of mentoring and preparing the next generation of activists.

When the students were asked if they had any questions after I was finished, there was only one. A female student asked how she would say "I Love You" or "What's Your Number?" in Chamorro. After the whole class laughed, I referred to my "I Love You in Chamorro" page on this blog.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Hawaii De-Tour

I'm on my way back to Guam right now, but I'll be stopping over in Hawai'i for a few days to visit family and also to work with the American Friends Service Committee there. They've lined up an interesting schedule of events for me, places to speak at, interviews, people to meet, and plenty of stories to listen to.
I call this a "de-tour" because one part of my trip will be taking a "De-Tour" around Hawai'i, which is short for a "demilitarization tour." In it I'll drive around and see different sites of military poisoning or contamination, different sites of resistance, and meet with people at different levels of Hawai'is struggle for environmental justice and Native Hawaiian (Kanaka'maoli) sovereignty.
My presence on this tour is all about helping build solidarity networks between Chamorro activists on Guam and Hawaiian and Native Hawaiian activists. I'll be talking to people about Guam's situation, its legacy of military occupation, development and abuse, and what similarities and disimilarities there are. Guam and Hawai'i, as well as 50% of the world fall under the command of a single military entity, PACOM or the Pacific Command, which is based based at Camp Smith in Hawai'i. The vastness of the territory that PACOM controls is no secret, but is place front and center on their website:

U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) is a Unified Combatant Command of the Armed Forces of the United States. It encompasses about half the earth’s surface, stretching from the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole. There are few regions as culturally, socially, economically, and geo-politically diverse as the Asia-Pacific. The 36 nations that comprise the Asia-Pacific region are home to more than fifty percent of the world’s population, three thousand different languages, several of the world’s largest militaries, and five nations allied with the U.S. through mutual defense treaties. Two of the four largest economies are located in the Asia-Pacific along with 10 of the 14 smallest. The AOR includes the most populous nation in the world, the largest democracy, and the largest Muslim-majority nation. More than one third of Asia-Pacific nations are smaller island nations that include the smallest republic in the world and the smallest nation in Asia.
If there is any hope for building peace and not war in the Pacific, transforming our islands and our region from the tip of the spear, to something else, it will come from working with other locations that fall under PACOM. Its not enough to work on our own lands, our own problems, we are tied together in so many ways, whether we know it or not. And there are powerful planners in the Pentagon or in Camp Smith who are tirelessly working for ways to dictate the destiny of our islands. We are weakened by not recognizing that simple fact.

Some of the things that I'll be doing is meeting with High School students from Waianae who are in an environmental justice summer course. I'll be participating in a demonstration at Waimanalo Valley, about the occupation and abuse of military lands there. I'm also scheduled to be interviewed for the OLELO Community Television Station and also by Carrol Cox for his radio show.

It looks to be an exciting next few days, so stay tuned for updates and info from my trip.

For more info on these sorts of events in Hawai'i, you can always visit DMZ Hawaii.

For more info on the AFSC and its mission in Hawai'i, I've pasted info from their website below (warning, the website looks like it hasn't been updated in six years or so):

AFSC work in Hawai'i began in 1942 with a program of service to Japanese residents suffering persecution after the Pearl Harbor bombing. Friends' opposition to the Vietnam War led to initiation of the present program in 1968. The Hawai'i Program offers grassroots, social analysis-based economic workshops. Advocacy work is initiated by others and focuses almost exclusively on state public policy affecting "welfare." AFSC's focus is to assure that state policies bridge work and welfare. In 1996, collaborative work between the STRENGTH Coalition, Honolulu Friends Meeting, and the Committee on Welfare Concerns resulted in state legislation with less negative long-term impact on the poor.

Also, AFSC gained recognition among peers, Department of Human Services, and selected state legislators as a credible advocate. In addition, the program has compiled and distributed packets of information about Hawai'i and provided these through AFSC-sponsored educational workshops.

Demilitarization Program (Honolulu, Hawai'i): The program examines the political, economic, and social role of the military in Hawai'i and advocates for the return of lands to Hawaiians. There is a unique focus on educating the general public on the extent, costs, and purpose of the military presence in Hawai'i. Actions involve a direct presence on military lands (i.e., picnics, hikes, caravans) and are repeated annually. Deliberate choice for innovative, popular education methods of presentation, making material accessible to the general public.
Accomplishments include coalition with community to successfully halt open burn and open detonation of military waste in Makua Valley, annual car caravan conducting educational programs at military sites, alternative July 4th observance, and picnic at Bellows Beach (Air Force recreation facility); increased discussion of alternative land uses in media and general public, recognition of AFSC as an alternative voice to the military's presence by media and academics. We focus on military destruction of land/environment and percentage of military lands withdrawn from ceded lands trust. AFSC-Hawai'i materials are used by academics, peace, and sovereignty groups.

Same-Gender Marriage Advocacy: To date the purpose of the program has been to support plaintiffs in a landmark court case challenging State prohibition of same-gender marriage and to participate in legislative hearings on the subject. As a non-Hawaiian/Quaker organization, AFSC has worked with Na Mamo, a local organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Hawaiians, to discuss Hawai'i's tradition of diversity and openness to diverse relationships among Pacific cultures as a value to be perpetuated.

Hawaiian Sovereignty Program (Honolulu, Hawai'i):AFSC is the first non-Hawaiian organization to take a public stand in support of self-determination. One of a few organizations working as a bridge between non-Hawaiian and kanaka maoli (native Hawaiian) communities through educational workshops, presence and participation in actions, activities, press conferences, called by na kanaka maoli.
Our book, He A lo Ahe Alo (Hawaiian Voices on Sovereignty) and national speaking tour have been strategies to bring attention to the sovereignty movement nationally. Parallel work on demilitarization is unique in the State.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Island of Historians and Chi Bi

I finally got to watch both parts of the epic Chinese war movie Chi Bi the other night. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it is directed by John Woo, and was released a month before the start of the 2008 Olympics and was meant to be a show of China's movie-making force to the rest of the world. It is the most expensive Chinese film to date and now its highest grossing film as well.

The title of the film Chi Bi translates to "red wall" or "red cliffs" in English, and is based on the battle of Chi Bi which took place almost two thousand years ago, and is infamously chronicled in the story Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the video game series Dynasty Warriors.

To give a little bit of background on the event. This battle takes place prior to the Three Kingdoms era in Chinese history, and is actually a key reason why China had a three kingdoms era at all. During this period the Han dynasty is coming to a close, and different figures are vying for control over different territories within China. Three main figures emerge and eventually divide up the contested region into three kingdoms, with Liu Bei, Cao Cao and Sun Quan, each respectively the leaders of Shu, Wei and Wu. All of these figures and their armies were at Chi Bi.

The year prior to which the battle was fought, Cao Cao had taken complete control over the imperial throne and reduced the emperor to his puppet. He had already pacified the northern part of the kingdom which would later become Wei, and sought to extend his influence and conquer the west and the south, which meant taking down Liu Bei and Sun Quan. Cao Cao was by far the most powerful of the three, and boasted that he came to the battle of Chi Bi, which took place within Sun Quan's kingdom, with 800,000 men and a massive armada. Hoping to stop Cao Cao's perversion of the imperial throne and the spreading of his influence, Liu Bei and Sun Quan joined forces against him, and through a fair amount of bold action and trickery from Sun Quan's Viceroy Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei's main strategist, they defeated Cao Cao.

The film Chi Bi chronicles the march of Cao Cao south to Wu, the forging of an alliance between Wu and Shu, the deception and dirty tricks that both sides commit to try and gain an advantage and then ultimately the battle itself, where Cao Cao is defeated by the axiom that, in war the winner is whoever the weather is with. The Shu and Wu alliance was able to substantially weaken Cao Cao's forces by making two of his key generals appear as if they were traitors. These two generals were the only commanders that Cao Cao had who had real Naval experience. They had both fought regular battles in Southern China, usually against Wu and Sun Quan's father, Sun Jian. Cao Cao relied heavily upon them since all his other generals were from the north and had no experience on the water. Zhou Yu was able to fool Cao Cao into thinking they were traitors and he had them executed. When the battle eventually began, Cao Cao was severely limited by the fact that he had no generals who could read the weather and anticipate its changes and that he was fighting a naval battle with troops who did not have "sea legs." Cao Cao went so far to chain his ships together to create a stable platform for his troops. Both of these mistakes worked in favor of the Shu-Wu forces, who took advantage of the ships being chained together and a change in wind to strike with fire ships and destroy much of the armada.

The movie uses this battle as the backdrop, but like the video game Dynasty Warriors, the action is all character and personality based. There is plenty of fighting and violence, explosions and death, don't get me wrong. But the film is also more than four hours long, and much of it is spent on the developing of characters and the developing of their relationships. Much of the film is fictionalized, meaning that certain events in the film simply didn't happen according to the historical record, but were created to give the film more drama or make it more exciting. But nearly all of persons involved were real historical figures and probably have thesises written on them, or movies or books about them. And it is on these figures and developing them that the movie is actually focused. It gets frustrating at certain points, as characters are given motivations, thoughts or actions in the film, that if you're familiar with the history or even the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, you know they certainly did not possess. A case in point is the close friendship and admiration that Zhou Yu and Zhuge Liang develop in the film. Although it is rocky at certain points, they forge an intimacy and a dialogue, a working off of each other that drives the action and provides the narrative rationale for the film. But this isn't just slightly different than what I know from the historical record, its almost completely different. Prior to the battle Zhou Yu attempted to assassinate both Zhuge Liang and Liu Bei several times.

Regardless of these changes, I still loved this movie because it provided so much new life and energy to historical Chinese figures that I've come to know in different ways over the years. Even if the film wasn't historically accurate, we shouldn't look to these sorts of films for anything about the past. Although they are dealing in history, they are working with history, they aren't meant to recreate history, or provide an accurate snapshot of that time. If you look for these sorts of things, you'll always be disappointed. This is of course why for me these films should be appreciated or analyzed for what they say about or what they do to the present. The changes that directors, editors, writers, actors or artists make in films dealing with long gone historical subjects are always meant to reflect the changes in attitudes or tastes of people today.

So in Chi Bi, like in all war movies the battles themselves are simplified, made shorter and less sprawling in order to pack them into an exciting and bombastic period of film time. The protagonists and antagonists are made clearer and sharpened to the point where one represents the best of humanity, freedom, liberty and creativity, while the other is oppression, and unchecked, evil power. Women characters are given larger roles and allowed to join in the action, far more than history and history books would ever allow. Furthermore, this film itself is made in order to represent China and Chinese culture and history to the world. History thus must be shaped to create something which is worthy of representing China, something which inspires, something which asserts China's historical and contemporary greatness and grandness. Most importantly though, is that the film has to be made to something which people of today can "enjoy" something that appeals to them and their sensibilities.

But whenever I see these sorts of large epics, which do far more to make the history of the world in people's minds than anything else, and anything which we could argue is more historically accurate, I am always reminded of Guam and ways in which we consider and envision our own relationship to Chamorro and Guam history. When I first started on my own path to becoming an academic, and seeing the history of Chamorro intellectuals and also the tone of Chamorro critical thinking, I was often struck at how history focused everything was. So much of what people who were critical or who were progressive from a Chamorro perspective were primarily committed to telling a different history or the real history, there were plenty of Chamorro historians, everyone seemed interested in getting better histories written.

Sometimes I've referred to Guam as an island of historians, or Chamorros as a historian people. When I say this, I don't mean that Chamorros are or Guam is very knowledgeable about their histories, that they take them very seriously or have some special insight to them that others don't. What I mean is that Chamorros, sometimes appear to be obsessed with a certain authenticity or accuracy to their history, which goes far beyond an everyday quality, but sometimes appears to be almost maniacal or pointless. They approach or envision their history and the ways it can be told or articulated as something which can only be accomplished in a single way, "the authentic" or the "right" way. But while we can all see the commonsensical lure to this sort of desire (the truth is its own reason), we should also know that its nonetheless a ridiculous one, and it is such in a number of equally commonsensical ways. Histories are always fictions, always vain, but perhaps noble attempts to take a multitude of constantly contradictions points and weave them together into a flowing narrative, a static snap shot, an episode edited for television, something which communicates a positive or a negative lesson, something which gives a clear view, a muddled view, an always impossible view, whose only certainty can be that, regardless of whatever authenticity comes attached to that history, that it is never actually certain. The ways in which the film Chi Bi, and the video game series Dynasty Warriors, academic texts on that period of Chinese history, all of them together tell that history, and although we might admit to one of the domains of knowledge possessing more historical accuracy than the others, that has little effect on

The "truth" does not possess any magical power. The accuracy of something does not mean it means more in peoples lives, or that it holds more weight in influencing people when they witness it, especially when it comes to historical events. A more accurate image can be helpful, it can be used to intervene and help shape things, but it doesn't hold any secret power. That which is more creative and more engaging and which makes explicit attempts to bridge the historical or temporal divides, so works of fiction or art, novels, plays, video games, generally hold far more power. They have a much more potent effect on people and the way they view their past, and thus the way they take pieces of it to build the foundation of their present identities.

It is this dimension of the relationship to history, this gap between the impossibility of its representation and the ways in which more "creative" or less accurate interpretations or representations work to fill in the gaps, that is almost completely lost on Chamorros. If you think that my discussion so far is too abstract or just too crazy, you probably wouldn't think so if you have ever participated in any discussion with a group of Chamorros, on what artifacts or material and creative forms constitute things such as "Chamorro culture." It is an obvious truism that cultures are always constantly changing, and constantly berating themselves for those shifts. Things are lost, and sometimes the story of that loss is banal and boring, almost incidental, in other cases it is violent and tragic.

As a people who "lost" so much during Spanish colonization, and for whom knowledge of that period depends primarily on Spanish and European accounts of that era, Chamorros constantly struggle with what to do with the absences or violent gaps that they have inherited. Cultural forms such as dances and canoe navigation were forbidden and lost. We know that they were there, but the forms that they took when they were eradicated are unknown. So the question of debate in these discussions is always, well since they are gone, can Chamorros ever really have dances or culture like that again? What can we authentically do with that loss? Can we ever authentically overcome those tragedies?

Your answers to these questions depend alot on not just your ideas of culture, but your opinions on history as well. For those who adhere to a very strict and unidimensional view of history, the answer is no, because its not accurate. We can't ever know what they were like, those pieces of culture were the authentic parts us and they are now gone, and no matter what we invent now as our culture, is will always be something we borrow, something which is never really ours. It is for this reason that discussions of the resurgence of Chamorro dance and culture are always accompanied by generally stupid and ignorant discussions on how these forms are inauthentic since they are just copying or borrowing from other cultures. The version of history that these island historians are clinging to is one of simplicity. History is a easy and obvious process, it moves in ways in which we can easily recognize things, and also seems to be a process in which things are neatly divided in such a way that you can always judge what is or isn't accurate.

The creative approach to history, is all based on those facts of history being diverse, flowing freely and in chaotic and contradictory ways, and is never completely knowable and is almost always an interpretive process which has nothing to do with the past, but always with the present. The creative approach happens within this universe of assumptions, it knows that history is not simply the easy answer to that axiom that "to know where we are going, we must know where we came from." It works, sometimes in more explicit ways other times in more implicit ways, on the assumption that the past and the future do not exist in separate tanks, and that history is not so much the abstraction of the past, but always how it relates and makes the present possible. Not just in a historical, timeline, series of events sense, but how it infuses in us today, how those events and the always changing meanings to that past literally pierce the present, making and unmaking it at every moment.

Returning to the initial object of this post, the subject matter of the film Chi Bi, I only hope that someday soon, more Chamorros will weaken the historian's eye that they take to their history and to the long journey of our people. That they will let their history breathe. I don't say this because the telling and re-telling of our history should be a process of "anything goes" and that accuracy doesn't matter. But I only say this to remind us that accuracy isn't everything and doesn't actually solve anything. As I said earlier, there is no magic to accuracy, it doesn't magically affect the boundaries of our imaginations, it doesn't magically communicate lessons or unite people, it doesn't make them care about their history any more, or make them more prone to learn "accurate" lessons of it. My point is that being accurate is not enough. Often times the way we represent Guam and Chamorro history are pared down to only that which is "true" or only that which we can confirm is accurate, this leaves us with frankly no history, nothing to build upon, except massive holes and gaps in who we are and where we came from, the names of maga'lahi but no stories to accompany them, the images of events and no stories to support them. That is why, although the Hale'-ta series is very informative and brings together, the books often cover the exact same ground in the same way. Collections of Chamorro legends and traditional stories tell the same ones over and over.

It is actually a point of sadness and tragedy, when the history of a people can be so easily contained into a single book or a small series of books. It means that people mistake a timeline or summary of history, its distillation to its most accurate parts, for the spirit or the force of their history. To make that mistake means to make Chamorro and Guam history wastelands, to deprive them of any life of vitality, beyond what you can say was written down. Academia may work that way, but history and people don't. The result of this is that there is nothing really that ties us to our history, and then we wonder then why Chamorros are so invested in American dreams and Americanization. It provides a mythology, it provides a glorious history full of wonderful fictions. It is full of reasons to be proud of it or attached to it, figures who have less than accurate movies, books or plays about them, events which recount them in stunning ignorance of any historical detail or accuracy.

This is especially so in the case of Chamorros, where what we accept as giving a history accuracy is half silence and the other half colonizer's words. To work with that oppressive historian's eye in this context, we condemn ourselves to those limits. To accept whatever explorers or priests chose to write down, to see ourselves and our imaginations as limited to them, to hinge our authenticity, which is in and of itself a horribly contradictory and impossible concept as reliant on whatever whatever they saw in Chamorros as worth writing down. Its a way of continuing our colonization, finding a way to shackle ourselves with more chains of the colonizer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spock and Obama

Ti apmam siempre bai hu fanuge' put "Star Trek," sa' gof ya-hu i nuebu na mubi. Lao esta ki ayu na tiempo, bai hu na'li'e hamyo este na tinige' put Si Presidente Barack Obama yan Si Spock (i mas ya-hu na petsona gi Star Trek).

Obama is Spock: It's quite logical
Our president bears a striking resemblance to the rational "Star Trek" Vulcan whose mixed race made him cultural translator to the universe.
By Jeff Greenwald
May 7, 2009

"Star Trek" is a cultural comet. From its tiny, ancient core -- a mere 79 episodes, airing before we set foot on the moon -- a seemingly infinite tail has grown, its glow still bright after 43 years. The original series (featuring James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock and Dr. "Bones" McCoy) ran for just three seasons, from 1966 to 1968. All of the techno-bling we associate with the show -- communicators, transporters, warp drive, phasers and Tribbles -- was introduced during that first run. It’s staggering to reflect that the premier episode aired during NASA’s two-man Gemini program -- five years before the first pocket calculator.

On Friday, May 8, the newest offering in the "Star Trek" canon will open in theaters around the world. The film will give us the back story of the original series, and show how its three principals got themselves onto what might be (along with Noah’s Ark and the Titanic) the most famous vehicle in history: the starship Enterprise. Only one of the three main actors of that era will appear in J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek." It won’t be William Shatner (Kirk), or DeForest Kelley (McCoy), who died in 1999. Though Mr. Spock’s role as a half-human, half-Vulcan Starfleet cadet is played by Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy makes a cameo appearance as the future Spock, coming to advise his younger avatar.
Spock has been on many minds lately, and not entirely because of the new film. Big thinkers in both print media and the blogosphere -- from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd to MIT media moguls -- have referenced the Enterprise's science officer in recent months, drawing parallels between the dependably logical half-Vulcan and another mixed-race icon: Barack Obama.

They're not just talking about the ears. For those of us who watched the show in the 1960s (or during the countless reruns since), Nimoy's alter ego was the harbinger of a future in which logic would reign over emotion, and rational thought triumph over blind faith. He was a digital being in an analog world; the Pied Piper who led our generation into the Silicon Age.
Anyone who followed the early "Star Trek" with regularity knows how charismatic Spock was. If there were two characters I wanted to be as a young man, they were Spock -- and James Bond. Both displayed total self-confidence, and amazing problem-solving skills. Both traveled to exotic destinations, and were irresistible to women. And both shared a quality that my generation lacked completely: composure.

While Bond had his weaknesses (anything in a bikini), Spock was virtually unflappable. The most startling marvels in the cosmos were "fascinating." Disasters were "unfortunate," perhaps even "tragic." The raised eyebrow, the lifted chin, the vaguely sarcastic mien -- these were coins of the realm to my pubescent friends. How did we weather the terrors of grade school, and survive the irrational outbursts of parents and teachers? By invoking Spock. Who served as our logical, enlightened counterpoint to the madness of the late 1960s? Who else but Spock?
"I am a first-generation 'Star Trek' fan, and I've long argued that many of my deepest political convictions emerged from my experience of watching the program as a young man growing up in Atlanta during the civil rights era," declares Henry Jenkins, co-director of the MIT comparative media studies program and author of "Convergence Culture." "In many ways, my commitment to social justice was shaped in reality by Martin Luther King and in fantasy by 'Star Trek.'”
Obama, Jenkins points out, positioned himself in the primaries as a man "at home with both blacks and whites, someone whose mixed racial background has forced him to become a cultural translator." In this sense Obama even surpasses Spock, whose struggle to reconcile his half-human, half-Vulcan genes is a continual source of inner conflict. In one episode, the entire Enterprise crew (except for Kirk) is infected by alien spores that turn them into doe-eyed flower children. The "cure" is anger -- thus Kirk is forced to provoke his first officer to rage. He succeeds, spectacularly, by insulting Spock’s racial pedigree: "All right, you mutinous half-breed! You’re an overgrown jackrabbit! An elf, with a hyperactive thyroid! A simpering, devil-eared freak whose father was a computer and his mother an encyclopedia!"

Confronted with a similar insult, Barack Obama would probably just laugh. "The Vulcan side of Obama, the core of his character, hasn't changed [since the election]," Jenkins believes. "He's tough, he’s cool and he’s rational." His appeal stems from the self-aware integration of all aspects of his personality: black and white, wonk and poet, athlete and aesthete.

Like Spock, part of what makes Obama so appealing is the fact that although he’s an outsider -- "proudly alien," as Leonard Nimoy once put it -- he uses that distance to cultivate a sense of perspective. And while we're drawn to Spock's exotic traits -- the pointy ears, green blood and weird mating rituals -- we take comfort in his soothing baritone, prominent nose and ordinary teeth.
Spock's appeal, according to the actor who portrayed him, came from cultivating this dichotomy. In 1997, I interviewed Nimoy for my book "Future Perfect: How 'Star Trek' Conquered Planet Earth." "There is a sensitive side to Spock," Nimoy said, "to which a lot of people, male and female, responded. Also very important -- at least I thought it was, because it was what I was constantly playing -- is the yin/yang balance between our right and left brains. How do you get through life as a feeling person, without letting emotions rule you? How do you balance the intellectual and emotional sides of your being?"
The early Spock's only real vice was sardonic ire (often directed at McCoy). But this was also one of his most appealing qualities -- because Spock, as Jenkins gleefully asserts, is "someone who can bitch slap you with his brain." It’s an ability shared by Obama -- who, unlike Spock, doesn't employ that superpower recreationally. His brilliance isn't a defense (or defended by sarcasm). While Obama embodies Spock's passion for reason, he adds the element of warmth.

"Star Trek" fans who bonded with Spock already understood what those of us who followed Obama learned early on: that witnessing a powerful intellect can be deeply satisfying on an emotional level. We got a similar hit from Martin Luther King Jr. and the Kennedys, of course, and from Bill Clinton. But while Clinton's administration was smart, Obama's seems futuristic.
"Bill Clinton promised a Cabinet that looked like America," Henry Jenkins said in a recent conversation. "Obama gave us one that looks like the Enterprise crew. In a matter-of-fact way, he's embraced diversity at every level. No Klingons yet -- but the administration is new."
During the months that I researched "Future Perfect," people all over the world admitted a longing for the zeitgeist of "Star Trek." "The Enterprise crew was a professional team of people solving problems together," agreed Nimoy. "It was always a very humanistic show, one that celebrated the potential strengths of mankind, of our civilization, with great respect for all kinds of life, and a great hope that there be communication between civilizations and cultures."

Which is another reason why the sometimes audacious diplomacy of the Obama administration is innately appealing to those of us weaned on the credo of "exploring strange new worlds" and "seeking out new life and new civilizations." And what if the Earth itself was visited by aliens? If benevolent ETs were to land on the Mall tomorrow, most of humanity would be proud to have Barack Obama speak for us. If Bush were still president, we'd be looking at "Mars Attacks."
The problem with smart, thoughtful people is that you have to pay attention. Even with "Star Trek," some viewers complained that the stories were too complicated, requiring too much focus for the average TV viewer. Nimoy sympathized. "'Star Trek,'" he reflected, "was a language show. A lot of the ideas were expressed verbally. It has been said -- and I think it's true -- that if you didn't listen to 'Star Trek,' you couldn't follow the stories."
The same could be said of today's White House: It's a language show. "Issues are never simple," Obama has said. "Very rarely will you hear me simplify the issues." The stakes are high, the narrative is complex, and no one's talking down to us.
Obama, like Spock, rewards close listening. His cool logic is a real departure from what we've grown used to. Often presidential speechmaking is an emotive art, where oratory trumps reason. What was being said was often confused with how it was being said. We could watch Ronald Reagan with the sound off, and get a pretty good sense of how we were supposed to feel. Bill Clinton's richly accented arias lulled us, while reactions to the appearances of George W. Bush -- pro or con -- were driven less by analysis than by a limbic, visceral response.
Not that we don't have a visceral response to Obama. But it's a very different feeling, a pride of possession familiar to old-school "Trek" fans, whose millions of letters kept NBC from canceling the show in 1967. That victory -- one of the first cases of the mass media being influenced by overwhelming grass-roots support -- gave Trekkers the indelible sense that "Star Trek" was theirs. And while none of Obama's individual supporters can claim ownership of his presidency (any more than "Star Trek's" fans write the movies), they're well aware that it was similar grass-roots movements -- on the Internet, at thousands of small-scale fundraisers and on the streets of contested states like Ohio and Florida -- that sustained his phenomenon.
So we come, unavoidably, to the Big Question: What would Barack Obama himself say to this comparison? How might our president respond to the cartoons circulating on the Internet, showing him sporting Vulcan ears and a Starfleet tunic? In a September 2008 broadcast of the popular NPR show "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!" guest Leonard Nimoy recalled a recent encounter with a fan.
"About a year and a half ago, I was at a political event. One of our current campaigners for the office of president of the United States saw me -- and as he approached, he gave me the Vulcan hand signal." You can practically hear Nimoy's eyebrow raise. "It was not John McCain."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dugeru yan Dakkon

Gof ya-hu i website Crooks and Liars. Ayu nai sina hu sakke' i kachidon i Daily Show siha dibatde. Manmanggaogaogao salape pa'go para i mamaila na sakkan. Yanggen sina hao, lismona ha' didide', pi'ot anggen liberal hao.

Olaha mohon na un diha sina manhatsa yu' website taiguini.


Please help save blogs before we're overrun by the corporate media

DAY 1:
We're reaching out to our readers and asking for your help so that the MSM and Corporate media do not overrun the blogosphere with Villagers. They are funneling in millions of dollars to compete with and ultimately drive away independent bloggers so that they can rule the Internet. And the kind of cash they are pouring in is staggering.
It's hard to compete with that since the economy is way down, and I think what we've accomplished is in jeopardy if the Internet doesn't step up to help us all, including other blogs that you like. So please donate what you can.
As you've seen, C&L has been expanding and improving the site and we need your help to continue to make more improvements and add more bodies to keep it going. We've released a host of new sites, including our Supreme Court blog Third Branch, the excellent Video Cafe, an expanded LNMC that is breaking new music and bringing music stars to our pages and finallythe very cool Newstalgia--which is posting the most extensive historic audio and video content on the web today. We've also released our first embeddable video player that now lets you embed all videos you see on C&L. This has taken a lot of time, effort and money to do, but we're succeeding. The economy is way down and it's affecting the blogs as well.
Our initial goal is to reach at least 50,000 dollars and the target is to get up to and beyond 100,000. I know this will take time and energy. As you've seen we're also reaching into the blogosphere and hiring bloggers to make C&L an even better site and to reward some of our own. The workload is tremendous. David Neiwert is now the managing editor and Susy Madrak has become a valued front-pager. Max Bernstein is handing the Late Nite Music Club and Gordon Skene is digging into his amazing time vault to bring us historical content that is relevant to today's news and Heather is leading the charge at Video Cafe. Now we're looking to hire video bloggers, a researcher, extra site monitors and an investigative journalist, but we can't do it without your help.


DAY 2:
It's day two of our C&L '09 fundraiser. We're reaching out to our readers and asking for your help so that the MSM and Corporate media do not overrun the blogosphere with Villagers. With ad revenues way down and the corporate elites funneling in millions of dollars to compete with us, it's going to be hard for all blogs to thrive and survive.
David Neiwert, who is the best expert we have today on right wing hate talk radio and hate groups, has become the managing editor of C&L.

There are lot of people on TV saying irresponsible things about the
shooting at the Holocaust museum (one mentioned the "Obama effect," as if this
was something that Obama's election precipitated).
If any TV bookers are looking for someone knowledgeable to speak on the subject, they should call David Neiwert. David blogs at Orcinus, he's the managing editor of Crooks & Liars, he's an expert on the subject and the author the new book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right.
David actually predicted something like this in the book. You can find more on the book here on David's book salon, which was hosted by Digby. If any media folks need contact info for David, drop me a line.
Thanks, Jane, for your kind words about David. He'll be on the air this morning on MSNBC and has been a great addition to the site. Our initial goal is to reach at least $50,000, and the target is to get up to and beyond $100,000. Day I of the donation drive: C&L's Donation Drive '09: Please help save blogs before we're overrun by the corporate media was awesome. Yesterday we had over 200 people donate and hit the six thousand dollar mark, which was really a great start. I know this will take time and energy. I'd like to pay more money to the people that help make C&L a good blog and I do need to hire a few more bloggers and staffers because the workload is so tremendous.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Adios GM

Makpo’ esta (put fin!) iyo-ku defense para iyo-ku dissertation. Siña dumeskånsañaihon yu’ på’go achokka’ bubula’ ha’ na debi di bai hu cho’gue para u na’funhåyan este na tinige’-ku.

Lao put i makpo’ na defense-hu, para bai hu hagong mas fa’set yan mas tahdong gi este na simåna, antes di bai hu saonao i likao i manmagraduduha gi i mamamaila na Sabålu.

Ya-hu este na ti apmåm na tiempon humahaggan, pi’ot sa’ siña hu buskabida gi i internet. Hu sodda’ este na tinige’ Michael Moore gi iyo-ña website. Guaha na kalang ti hongge’on i binanidosu i taotao yan kometsiante Amerikånu siha. Todu i otro na manriku na nasion, dumiddidde dummiddidde ma na’latatakhilo i “fuel efficiency” para i karetan-ñiha. Lao atan i bidan i Amerikånu siha? Kulang tåya’. Ma diseha na i espiritun Amerikånu yan i brinede i Amerikånu na taotao para u ma’ok siha. Lao atan ha’, atan i hiniyong. Dos na mampos dongkålu na kompaña Amerikånu, pumoddong ya tumaisalåpe.

Ti ma komprende i finayi este na sinangan, "planehayi agupa', mungga anggokko'gue." Sa' agupa' tåya’ nai iyo-mu, ya ni' ngai'an iyo-mu siempre lokkue'. Mas ti anggokkuyan kinu i ichan.

Antes di para bai hu na'taitai hao i tinige' Michael Moore. Mungga maleffa put i nuebu na mubi-ña. Dipotsi pau mana'huyong gi Oktubre.


Monday, June 1st, 2009
Goodbye, GM Michael Moore
From Michael

I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the President of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled.

As I sit here in GM's birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned. Imagine what it would be like if you lived in a city where almost every other house is empty. What would be your state of mind?

It is with sad irony that the company which invented "planned obsolescence" -- the decision to build cars that would fall apart after a few years so that the customer would then have to buy a new one -- has now made itself obsolete. It refused to build automobiles that the public wanted, cars that got great gas mileage, were as safe as they could be, and were exceedingly comfortable to drive. Oh -- and that wouldn't start falling apart after two years. GM stubbornly fought environmental and safety regulations. Its executives arrogantly ignored the "inferior" Japanese and German cars, cars which would become the gold standard for automobile buyers. And it was hell-bent on punishing its unionized workforce, lopping off thousands of workers for no good reason other than to "improve" the short-term bottom line of the corporation. Beginning in the 1980s, when GM was posting record profits, it moved countless jobs to Mexico and elsewhere, thus destroying the lives of tens of thousands of hard-working Americans. The glaring stupidity of this policy was that, when they eliminated the income of so many middle class families, who did they think was going to be able to afford to buy their cars? History will record this blunder in the same way it now writes about the French building the Maginot Line or how the Romans cluelessly poisoned their own water system with lethal lead in its pipes.

So here we are at the deathbed of General Motors. The company's body not yet cold, and I find myself filled with -- dare I say it -- joy. It is not the joy of revenge against a corporation that ruined my hometown and brought misery, divorce, alcoholism, homelessness, physical and mental debilitation, and drug addiction to the people I grew up with. Nor do I, obviously, claim any joy in knowing that 21,000 more GM workers will be told that they, too, are without a job.

But you and I and the rest of America now own a car company! I know, I know -- who on earth wants to run a car company? Who among us wants $50 billion of our tax dollars thrown down the rat hole of still trying to save GM? Let's be clear about this: The only way to save GM is to kill GM. Saving our precious industrial infrastructure, though, is another matter and must be a top priority. If we allow the shutting down and tearing down of our auto plants, we will sorely wish we still had them when we realize that those factories could have built the alternative energy systems we now desperately need. And when we realize that the best way to transport ourselves is on light rail and bullet trains and cleaner buses, how will we do this if we've allowed our industrial capacity and its skilled workforce to disappear?

Thus, as GM is "reorganized" by the federal government and the bankruptcy court, here is the plan I am asking President Obama to implement for the good of the workers, the GM communities, and the nation as a whole. Twenty years ago when I made "Roger & Me," I tried to warn people about what was ahead for General Motors. Had the power structure and the punditocracy listened, maybe much of this could have been avoided. Based on my track record, I request an honest and sincere consideration of the following suggestions:

1. Just as President Roosevelt did after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the President must tell the nation that we are at war and we must immediately convert our auto factories to factories that build mass transit vehicles and alternative energy devices. Within months in Flint in 1942, GM halted all car production and immediately used the assembly lines to build planes, tanks and machine guns. The conversion took no time at all. Everyone pitched in. The fascists were defeated.

We are now in a different kind of war -- a war that we have conducted against the ecosystem and has been conducted by our very own corporate leaders. This current war has two fronts. One is headquartered in Detroit. The products built in the factories of GM, Ford and Chrysler are some of the greatest weapons of mass destruction responsible for global warming and the melting of our polar icecaps. The things we call "cars" may have been fun to drive, but they are like a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature. To continue to build them would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet.

The other front in this war is being waged by the oil companies against you and me. They are committed to fleecing us whenever they can, and they have been reckless stewards of the finite amount of oil that is located under the surface of the earth. They know they are sucking it bone dry. And like the lumber tycoons of the early 20th century who didn't give a damn about future generations as they tore down every forest they could get their hands on, these oil barons are not telling the public what they know to be true -- that there are only a few more decades of useable oil on this planet. And as the end days of oil approach us, get ready for some very desperate people willing to kill and be killed just to get their hands on a gallon can of gasoline.

President Obama, now that he has taken control of GM, needs to convert the factories to new and needed uses immediately.

2. Don't put another $30 billion into the coffers of GM to build cars. Instead, use that money to keep the current workforce -- and most of those who have been laid off -- employed so that they can build the new modes of 21st century transportation. Let them start the conversion work now.

3. Announce that we will have bullet trains criss-crossing this country in the next five years. Japan is celebrating the 45th anniversary of its first bullet train this year. Now they have dozens of them. Average speed: 165 mph. Average time a train is late: under 30 seconds. They have had these high speed trains for nearly five decades -- and we don't even have one! The fact that the technology already exists for us to go from New York to L.A. in 17 hours by train, and that we haven't used it, is criminal. Let's hire the unemployed to build the new high speed lines all over the country. Chicago to Detroit in less than two hours. Miami to DC in under 7 hours. Denver to Dallas in five and a half. This can be done and done now.

4. Initiate a program to put light rail mass transit lines in all our large and medium-sized cities. Build those trains in the GM factories. And hire local people everywhere to install and run this system.

5. For people in rural areas not served by the train lines, have the GM plants produce energy efficient clean buses.

6. For the time being, have some factories build hybrid or all-electric cars (and batteries). It will take a few years for people to get used to the new ways to transport ourselves, so if we're going to have automobiles, let's have kinder, gentler ones. We can be building these next month (do not believe anyone who tells you it will take years to retool the factories -- that simply isn't true).

7. Transform some of the empty GM factories to facilities that build windmills, solar panels and other means of alternate forms of energy. We need tens of millions of solar panels right now. And there is an eager and skilled workforce who can build them.

8. Provide tax incentives for those who travel by hybrid car or bus or train. Also, credits for those who convert their home to alternative energy.

9. To help pay for this, impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline. This will get people to switch to more energy saving cars or to use the new rail lines and rail cars the former autoworkers have built for them.

Well, that's a start. Please, please, please don't save GM so that a smaller version of it will simply do nothing more than build Chevys or Cadillacs. This is not a long-term solution. Don't throw bad money into a company whose tailpipe is malfunctioning, causing a strange odor to fill the car.

100 years ago this year, the founders of General Motors convinced the world to give up their horses and saddles and buggy whips to try a new form of transportation. Now it is time for us to say goodbye to the internal combustion engine. It seemed to serve us well for so long. We enjoyed the car hops at the A&W. We made out in the front -- and the back -- seat. We watched movies on large outdoor screens, went to the races at NASCAR tracks across the country, and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time through the window down Hwy. 1. And now it's over. It's a new day and a new century. The President -- and the UAW -- must seize this moment and create a big batch of lemonade from this very sour and sad lemon.

Yesterday, the last surviving person from the Titanic disaster passed away. She escaped certain death that night and went on to live another 97 years.

So can we survive our own Titanic in all the Flint Michigans of this country. 60% of GM is ours. I think we can do a better job.

Michael Moore

Monday, June 08, 2009

Of Epigramology

I'm working furiously on finishing up my dissertation, and other than the filling in of my 700 footnotes, one of the fun tasks left to finish is the choosing of epigrams from the start of each chapter. An epigram is a quote or passage that you place at the start of the chapter to help set the mood or the tone. It can be tragic, funny, serious, boring, whatever you'd like, but it provides a extra bit of spice, meaning or flavor to help give your chapter a sense of presence or meaning, even before the reader has actually read any of it.

For my dissertation I'm torn between using jokes passages, or all passages meant to be silly or funny. So for instance, in one of my chapters on the United Nations, sovereignty and the way the claims of indigenous people for decolonization are reduced to domestic concerns or effects of the nations, I thought about using this quote from an Eddie Izzard show:

“So the American government lied to the Native Americans for many, many years, and then President Clinton lied about a relationship, and everyone was surprised! A little naïve, I feel!”

Or for my methodology chapter in which I discuss the difficulties in doing work on a concept such as sovereignty in relation to a place considered to be invisible, marginal or exceptional like Guam, I thought about using all or part of the long quote below from Michel Foucault's The Archeology of Knowledge. This quote explains how in order to critique concepts of sovereignty through Guam's political status, I deprive it of the stability and tranquility that history of the concept is often afforded with and takes for granted.

“These pre-existing forms of continuity, all these syntheses that are accepted without question, must remain in suspense. They must not be rejected definitively of course, but the tranquility with which they are accepted must be disturbed; we must show that they do not come about of themselves, but are always the result of a construction the rules of which must be know, and the justifications for which must be scrutinized: we must define in what conditions and in view of which analyses certain of them are legitimate; and we must indicate which of them can never be accepted in any circumstances. … But need we dispense for ever with the ‘oevre,’ the ‘book’, or even such unities as ‘science’ or ‘literature’? … What we must do, in fact, is to tear away from their virtual self-evidence, and to free the problems they want to pose; to recognize that they are not the tranquil locus on the basis of which other questions (concerning their structure, coherence, systematicity, transformations) may be posed, but that they themselves pose a whole cluster of questions (What are they? How can they be defined or limited? What distinct types of laws can they obey? What articulation are they capable of? What sub-groups can they give rise to? What specific phenomena do they reveal in the field of discourse. The question proper to such an analysis might be formulated this way: what is this specific existence that emerges from what is said and nowhere else?”

Or one other option was to go the route of inspirational quotes. So I considered using a quote like this one from Epeli Hau'ofa's essay "The Ocean in Us."

"there are no more suitable people on earth to be the custodians of the oceans than those for whom the sea is home...we seem to have forgotten that we are such a people...our roots...our origins are embedded in the sea...our ancestors were brought here by the sea...the sea is our pathway to each other and to everyone else, the sea is our endless saga, the sea is our most powerful metaphor...the Ocean is in Us..."

In my search for epigrams, I took a look at what epigrams other books were using to give me some ideas and also to see it there were any nice ones to steal. One book I looked at was Exception to the Rulers by Amy and David Goodman. The authors put together a nice collection of quotes for their chapters (the chapters are pretty good themselves as well, Amy Goodman is one of the most critical and engaged progressive media people out there). Although I didn't find any of them very useful for my particular project, they were an interesting mix nonetheless and so I thought I would paste them below for people to check out.

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
-George Santayana


We're more likely to see other companies as collaborators rather than adversaries...We aren't so much competing with each other as we are competing with the earth. And maybe that's a healthy way to look at it.
-George Kirkland, Chairman and Managing Director, Chevron Nigeria Limited

It is very clear that Chevron, like Shell, uses the military to protect its oil activities. They drill and they kill.
-Oronto Douglas, Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer

I'm very proud of my association with Chevron.
-Condoleeza Rice, National Security Advisor


First they came for the communists, but I was not a communist so I did not speak out. Then they came from the socialists and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came from the Jews, but I was not a Jew and so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
-Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), Protestant Pastor in Nazi Germany


We can bomb the world to pieces. But we can't bomb it into peace.
-Michael Franti, Hip-Hop Artist


Imagine living, eating, sleeping, relieving oneself, day-dreaming, weeping - but mostly waiting, in a room about the size of your bathroom. Now imagine doing all those things - but mostly waiting, for the rest of your life. Imagine waiting - waiting - to die.
-Mumia Abu-Jamal


From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August
-Andrew H. Card, White House Chief of Staff, speaking about the Iraq War P.R. campaign, September 6, 2002.


Good morning Baghdad!
-Dan Rather, CBS Evening News Anchor, describing the message being sent by President Bush with the first bombs on Baghdad, March 19, 2003

George Bush is the president...Whenever he wants to me to line up, just tell me where and he'll make the call.
-Dan Rather, on Late Night with David Letterman, September 17, 2001

One of the things we don't want to to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq because in a few days we're going to own that country.
-Tom Brokaw, NBC Nightly News, March 19, 2003


Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.
-General William C. Westmoreland, U.S. Military Commander in Vietnam


There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.
-Howard Zinn


I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book.
-Groucho Marx


For every torturer, there are a thousand people ready to risk their lives in order to save another. For every soliders who shoots in a neighborhood, there are a thousand companeros who help and protect each other.
-Isabel Allende


Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be.
-Alice Walker


If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
-Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Hitler's Minister of Propaganda


When the operation of the machine becomes so've got to throw your body upon the wheels, upon the gears, upon the levers, and upon all the apparatus of the machine, and you've got to make it stop.
-Mario Savio, Leader, Free Speech Movement (1964), Berkeley, California

Governments lie.
-I.F. Stone, Journalist


Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
-Frederick Douglass


Another world is not only possible, she's on her way. Maybe many of us won't be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen carefull, I can hear her breathing.
-Arundhati Roy

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Dissertation Defense

If you are in San Diego with nothing to do, then you are cordially invited to my
Yanggen manggaige hamyo giya San Diego, ya tåya' bidan-mimiyu, pues manmakombibida hamyo para iyo-ku

Ethnic Studies, UCSD

June 8, 2009, 9:30 am
University of California San Diego
Social Sciences Building
Room 103

"Chamorros, Ghosts and Non-Voting Delegates:
GUAM! Where the Production of America's Sovereignty Begins."


Michael Lujan Bevacqua
Taotao Chumalamlam
Familian Kabesa yan Bittot

If you have any questions please email:
An guaha finaisen-miyu put fabot email ha' yu' gi:

Maila yan Fanekungok yanggen siña hamyo!!

Thank you!
Si Yu'us Ma'åse!

Yanggen malago un tungo’ mas put i tinige’-ku yemme’ este na link.

Below are five pictures of my dissertation

Monday, June 01, 2009

Antes Di Gera: American Style Colonialism

I've been a writer for the online Encyclopedia Guampedia for about four years now and have written more than a dozen entries for them. In fact I still owe them half a dozen dealing with Chamorro cultural symbols that I've put on hold until July because I need to finish up my dissertation. But in the meantime I thought I would share below an update on some new entries that have been added to the site.

As I wrote last month on Guamology in my article "Guampedia - A Procrastinating Student's Dream Come True," the importance that I see in Guampedia is how information which for the longest time was only available in the minds of scholars or certain elders can now be gotten so easily online:

For me through the true gift of Guampedia is that there are so many things contained there in its entries, that I never would have imagined would be available online, that would be so easily accessible. It goes far beyond any other Guam or Chamorro based website in terms of providing good, critical information. For instance most websites gloss over the colonial side of Guam’s history, in particular over the past 110 years. Guampedia however supports those sorts of writings and ideas, because while they may make us uncomfortable by revealing the less pleasant side of our relationship with the United States, it is the truth, and it should be communicated to us in all its unpleasantness.

For my part I've had the chance to write some essays for Guampedia that I am very proud of, because they allowed me to say so many things that I always talk about on my blog, but say them in a very polished academic way, to a much larger audience. Some of the entries that I've written for Guampedia were far longer than just a paragraph or even a page, but some ended up being ten pages long when I was finished. These articles dealt with important questions of Chamorro and Guam history, and required the explaining of important concepts and so they took much longer than I even initially anticipated when I began writing them.

But I appreciated being asked to chronicle or explain some of the moments of Chamorro history that I feel are crucial in providing a worthwhile narrative of where we have come from, where this island has come from. Some of these longer essay entries that you can check out are:

"The Transmission of Christianity into Chamorro Culture" which is about the cultural negotiations that went on during the early Spanish colonial period.

"Blacksmithing" which is about the evolution of Chamorro arts in terms of tool making.
"Religious Life Under the Japanese Occupation" which is about the struggles that Chamorros experienced to maintain their religious practicies during I Tiempon Chapones.

"Ancient Chamorro World View" which is about the epistemological frameworks that Ancient Chamorros may have used to think about issues of spirituality, morality, langhet yan sasalaguan.

And finally the last piece that I wrote, which is part of the recent Antes di Gera updates is, "American Style Colonialism," which, as the title indicates is about Chamorro responses to American colonization from 1898-1941.

Below is the Press Release from Guampedia regarding their new entries. Yanggen malago hao tumungo' mas put este na bunito na isla-ta, falak guatu ya espiha mas.

May 22, 2009

News Release: Guampedia publishes 35 new entries about the U.S. Naval Era on Guam

The arrival of the USS Charleston at Apra Harbor, Guam June 20, 1898 and the capture of Guam by the Americans during the Spanish American War heralded the beginning of significant change for the Chamorro people. Captain Henry Glass claimed Guam for the U.S., seized the Spanish officials, and set sail for the Philippines.

After 230 years of Spanish control the Chamorros of Guam had a new colonial master who brought a new style of governance with an emphasis on the separation of church and state. The U.S. colonial government also issued many rules by an ever-changing naval administrator, who was only stationed on Guam for a year or two. Besides a three and a half year occupation of Guam by the Japanese during World War II, this situation continued until 1950.

The Early American section of Guampedia, published today, describes how the Americans brought not only a new style of governance but also imposed economic restrictions on the island. Each naval governor had his own ideas about how things should be done and ordered the Chamorros to comply.

The first published newspaper was created during the early years of American colonial rule, more youth learned to read and write in English, American music, such as jazz and band ensembles, was introduced influencing Chamorro music of the time. Baseball made its debut with fields carved out of the jungle and teams established in many villages. Theaters, stores and even soda fountains were built and enjoyed by island residents. Hagåtña and Sumay were bustling towns.

Guampedia, Guam’s Online Encyclopedia, was founded by the Guam Humanities Council beginning in 2002. The site, with its first 400 entries and 2,000 photographs, was launched online in April 2008. A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People” initiative paid for these new entries. Guampedia recently separated from the Council and is now its own non-profit organization.

Beginning last year, the Guampedia team, while still with the Council, delved into this little known era of Guam’s history, focusing on the periods from 1898 to 1941 (U.S. Naval Era) and then again from 1944 to 1950 (Post World War II Era). During World War II, Guam was taken over and occupied by the Japanese from Dec. 8, 1941 until July 21, 1944.

While some of the entries describing the U.S. Naval Era and the Post World War II Era were written with earlier grants, the new entries created with this grant are:

1. Guam’s Early American Historical Overview
2. Partitioning of the Marianas
3. American Style Colonialism
4. Early American Period has Profound Implications
5. Early Naval Executive Orders
6. Institute of Ethnic Affairs
7. Governor Willis W. Bradley
8. Leprosy – Hospitals and Colonies
9. Leprosy – Local Reaction
10. Leprosy – Insular Patrol
11. Hospitals during the Naval Era
12. Dr. Ramon Manalisay Sablan
13. Development of the Guam Code
14. Island Court System
15. Judges and Island Attorneys
16. Chamorro Migration to the U.S.
17. Communications and Transportation Advancements
18. Newspapers
19. Postal History of Guam
20. Transpacific telecommunications
21. Apra Harbor
22. Port of Guam
23. First Pan American Flights
24. Resettlement Patterns under American Rule
25. American Red Cross, Guam Chapter
26. Cushing Family
27. Young Men’s League of Guam (YMLG)
28. Guam’s Role in World War I
29. Changes in Construction Styles
30. Americans bring upheaval in religious practices
31. Post-World War II Education
32. Language Policies during the U.S. Naval Era
33. Banking
34. Early American Economic History

The entries were created by various researchers and writers, to include the Guampedia editorial team.

“This section also includes great historic video and photographs that will lend to a greater understanding of this crucial period of Guam’s colonial history,” said Shannon Murphy, Guampedia managing editor. “Doing the research was an eye opener for all of us. We hope that these entries will provide a better understanding of the past so that we can better prepare for the future.”

Editors: Contact Guampedia at 734-0217 for further information.


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